Saturday, January 17, 2009


Happy Inauguration Weekend raindancers!

I imagine all of you have planned out your weekends, particularly Tuesday's activities, with meticulous care and attention to logistical detail, right?

Turns out not so much. As I've moved (sluggishly) through my first week of classes I've noticed how startingly unprepared some of my fellow students are for the Inaugural festivities. Any inquiry into people's weekend intentions is met with a vague description of general activity and movement, hardly a cohesive P.O.A.

Well I shall have none of that. As I have been putting this off for far too long, it's time I commit to cyberpaper my official Inauguration Objectives:

1) Early start

The gates to the National Mall open at 9:00 AM, but as expected there will be large crowds lined up ready to admitted. As I don't want my entry to the Mall to be hindered by thousands of lame tourists, I mean, fellow Americans, I plan to get to to the security checkpoint on 6th St. NW (or to a checkpoint as close as walkably possible) at around 5:30-6:00 AM. I know this sounds crazy. Let's do it.

2) Dress warmly

It's January in Washington, so naturally the mercury will be hovering at around -48 degrees F on Tuesday morning (actual forecasts call for highs in the mid to upper 20s and partly cloudy skies with a chance of precipitation at 20%. Brr). I will be layering myself thoroughly and encourage all to do the same. I recommend wearing UnderArmor as your first layer if you have any. I also plan on bringing an umbrella (which contrary to popular belief is permitted on the non-ticketed Mall area. See "Prohibited Items" a little further down) just in case, even though any precipitation will be in the form of snow.

A detailed forecast for Tuesday can be found here:

3) Walk down

The walk to the Mall should be a lot of fun. I'll be joined by hundreds of other early birds on the streets making our way to downtown in the hopes of witnessing history as physically close as possible. As with anything on Tuesday, I plan to push myself as close to the action as possible. Which brings me to

4) Staking out a spot

Madison & 4th St. NW. That's exactly where I want to be. I know this sounds ambitious and that I will likely not get there, but that won't stop me from trying. As I don't have a ticket to the swearing-in ceremony, (thanks for nothing Senator Cardin. Two words: reelection defeat), I will be viewing it from the non-ticketed area just west of 4th St. NW on the National Mall. There'll be a jumbotron right there. No disrespect, but if John S. McCain were taking the oath I'd probably stand at the steps of the Lincoln. But this is different.

5) Wait

This will be the least enjoyable part. It'll be cold, it'll be crowded (which will certainly help with the cold), and it'll be longer than anyone would like.

6) Witness history

7) Listen to the President of the United States of America speak

8) Attempt to make way to parade route

This will be very difficult to do. Despite the fact that I will be literally at least one block and at most two or three blocks away from the parade route, the sheer amount of bodies will make it seem like a mile...of bodies. Mayor Fenty has said that watching the swearing-in ceremony AND the parade will be virturally impossible, and has advised that swearing-in ceremony attendees view the parade from one of the many jumbotrons on the Mall. Fair enough, I guess. Anyway, I plan to bring a backpack, and apparently they are not allowed along the parade route (see below).

9) Relieve myself

Because I'll probably have to. This will take considerably longer than normal.

10) Get home

Back to Ivory to eat and get ready for the Ball

11) Looking fly, head to Omni Shoreham

Around 8:30 PM.

Now there's been a lot of confusion about what time events start and what items are allowed or not allowed at the ceremony. The following is from the Washington Post's Inauguration Central website:

Inauguration Day Timing

Some of this information is preliminary. More detail will be added as it becomes available.

4 a.m. -- Metro opens (at rush-hour service and fare levels).
4 a.m. -- Monday extended alcohol service for bars and nightclubs ends; they can remain open 24 hours through Jan. 21.
8 a.m. -- Security gates open for ticketed guests
9 a.m. -- Ceremony gates open.
10 a.m. -- Musical prelude. See the full schedule.
Noon -- Ceremony ends, followed by the inaugural address, luncheon, departure of President Bush and parade.
2 p.m. -- Approximate start time for parade
7 p.m. -- Official balls start
9 p.m. -- Rush-hour Metro service levels end.
2 a.m. -- Metro closes.
4 a.m. -- Tuesday extended alcohol service for bars and nightclubs ends.

Prohibited Items

The Obvious:

No firearms (real or simulated)
No mace or pepper spray
No fireworks or other explosives
No animals other than service animals
No knives, blades or sharp objects
No pocket or hand tools such as the “Leatherman” (darn. gotta keep the Leatherman at home)

On the Mall:

No tents or that includes no camping out
No glass bottles
No alcohol (call your sponsor beforehand if need be)

Along the Parade Route:

No bicycles
No backpacks, large bags, suitcases or duffel bags. Bags smaller than 8 inches by 6 inches by 4 inches are allowed.
No aerosol cans, which could include silly string
No coolers
No thermal or glass containers
No chairs (except at opening concert) or strollers
Walkers and other devices for those with special needs are permitted.
Blankets are allowed
Signs are allowed, but only if they are no more than 3 feet in length, 20 feet wide or a quarter inch thick. They must be made out of poster board, cardboard or cloth.
Cameras are allowed; tripods and camera bags are not

That's it. Backpacks are fine (but are obviously subject to inspection), as are umbrellas, water bottles (as long as they're plastic), snack food, blankets, etc.

Here's what I'll be bringing:

Snack food (fruit, chips, etc.)
Lifesize Obama cardboard cut-out and Obama mask (in case he comes out afterwards to sign stuff and hang)

This map is fantastic (click to enlarge). Though at the bottom it says "people coming to watch the inauguration should enter the Mall from the south," which I don't quite understand. I guess we'll figure out a lot of stuff from other people and from authorities on Tuesday. I'm quite sure many of my above stated objectives have a great chance of failure. I'm prepared for this.

Tuesday will be at times anxious, hectic, cold, and most of all, exhausting. But it will also be memorable, historic, communal, emotional, FUN, and a great American event. And as an American, I wouldn't miss it for the world. Who's with me?

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